25 Places to Stay on a Cross Country Motorcycle Trip

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How to tell if your motorcycle tires are worn.

As with any motorcycle, tire condition will greatly affect your safety and your bike’s performance, so replacing your tires regularly is not only important but essential for your safety.

But, how do you know when your motorcycle tires are worn? You should develop the habit of doing monthly inspects to determine the tires wear indicators, tread wear, tire age, and tire condition to determine if your motorcycle tires need replacing.

I’m seeing wires on my motorcycle tires, what should I do?

We are going to hit this one on the head straight away. If your tires are showing wires stop riding immediately, your tire will not perform adequately and is in danger of blowing out.

Tread Wear

Sometimes simply looking at the tread down the centre of the tire will immediately tell you that the tires are ready to be replaced. Visible metal cords or threads showing through the tread is the most obvious sign that it’s time to replace them.

If you can see small curvy lines that look a bit like wrinkles running down the center portion of the tire, this is a sign that the cord is just below the surface. This is another indicator that it’s time to replace the tires.

Often a tire will have most of its wear down the center, especially if the majority of your riding is commuting, or freeway riding.

If you see any metal mesh showing, that’s a clear sign that your tires are toast. While that’s pretty obvious, there are other more subtle signs to look for on the tread. Sometime the tires doesn’t show wear right at the wear indicators, but the tread is worn all the way down to the metal weave underneath. This is the easiest visual indicator that your tires are finished.

Check the Wear Indicators

All new tires will be designed with some type of wear indicator, a small bar of tread that is raised slightly higher than the tire’s lowest point. When the tread has worn down even with this bar, the tire is ready to be replaced.

If you are finding it hard to locate your wear indicator lookout for little bumps at the bottom of the main grooves. If the depth of the rubber remaining reduces below the level of these indicators (1.5mm), the tire has reached its legal wear limit and must be replaced.

Often you can get a few more miles, maybe a couple hundred, after this point, but keep in mind that as the tire is coming to the end of its life, and will need to be changed fairly quickly.

Tire Age

When it comes to your motorcycle tires age it is important that you are abiding to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Even if you left your tires off your bike, sitting in the garage the material of the tires is still breaking down. That is why you should never exceed the maximum manufacturer’s tire age recommendations.

The average motorcycle tires last for 5 to 10 years, but according to most manufacturers, riders should expect their tires to last until the 6th year of frequent use. Of course, environmental factors, usage, build quality, type of rubber, and usage vs the intended purpose of the tire all play a factor in the aging process of a tire.

To locate the manufactures date code (such as in the photo below) have a lllook for a 4 digit part of the DOT code on the sidewall of your motorcycle tire.

The first 2 numbers indicate the week and the last 2 numbers indicate the year (following 2000). So in the example below, the manufacture recommends that you do not use this tire beyond the 35th week of 2007.

source: pitstoparabia.com

Cracks and Dry Rot

Put simply dry rot is characterized by cracks in the tire rubber, usually seen on the sidewall. All dry rot really is is the decay of your tire through regularly exposed to harmful substances and conditions.

Dry Rot compromises your safety

Dry rot is extremely harmful to your motorcycle and your overall safety. Dry rot allows air to escape the tire, if you notice that it is impossible to fully inflate your tire, it might be dry rot!

Dry rot will also express itself as unnatural rubber expansion while driving. Tires with dry rot are known to develop leaks, holes and blowouts. This can cause mid-ride separation of tread and tire making it extremely dangerous.

With motorcycle deaths, 28 times more likely than other fatal crashes (Source: Forbes) dry rot is just not worth brushing over.

What can be done about dry rot?

It is important to say that there is no way of repairing cracks or dry rot on a motorcycle tire. My recommendation is to check for dry rot twice a year or so and if you find some on your tires get them changed immediately.

Tire Damage

Tire damage by cuts and tears are actually the most unlikely causes of needing to replace your tires, however, it does need to be mentioned. The most common things that can cause tire damage is over and under-inflation of your tires. By over or under inflating your tires you’re exposing them to an increased risk of being damaged by sharp objects.

Tire Cupping

Tire cupping is an odd and uneven wear pattern on your tires due to bouncing motion on your wheels. Tire cupping is often irregular in where it shows up on the wheel and will interfere with the tires ability to have proper contact with the road. Tire cupping will normally appear on one side of the tire only. Some slight cupping over time is normal and is due to low tire pressure. The best thing you can do is increase the tire pressure by about 2psi.

It is also important to mention here that depending on the your habits, how much you lean into corners or stay upright this can also change the amount of uneven wear on your tires. There is no right or wrong here, you just need to understand your habits as a rider and how this can affect your motorcycle.

Not sure how much wear is too much?

When evaluating your motorcycles tires it is important that you take a more catious than blazay approach. Often times we forget that there are only a few milimeters of tread that hold the shinny side up and the rubber side down.

If you’re still not sure, pop into your local garage and ask the question.

How to motorcycle camp in the winter without freezing

When it comes to motorcycle camping in the winter there are a few small ways that you can prepare yourself that will make a huge difference to the enjoyment of your trip. Ultimately the goal here is to stay warm and dry, whilst still enjoying the outdoors.

Here are my 5 must haves & dos when motorcycle camping in winter:

1. Invest in the right tent

When it comes to tents there are $20 tents and there are $1000 tents and yes, there is a considerable difference! When it comes to buying a tent I like to think of it as an investment, this is going to be your shelter for every motorcycle camping trip to come. So it would make sense to make sure that you’re buying the right one!

When it comes to tents there are really 2 options:

  1. 3 Season: Designed for Summer, Spring & Autumn
  2. 4 Season: Designed for Summer, Spring and Autumn & Winter

Now I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve just looked at 4 season tent option on amazon and they are freaking expensive!”. Yes they are, with the average 4 season tent costing $800-$1000 they are definitely expensive. But there is good news, 3 season tents are still completely fine to use in winter down to 32 F or 0 C. Where a 4 season tent really shines is when you’re pushing below 32 F with blizzard-like winds.

2. Always bring a Sleeping pad

When it comes to winter camping having a high-quality sleeping pad cannot be overlooked. Even more so than choosing the right tent!

Let me explain why.

When camping in winter you’re lying down on the hard, cold ground and it takes your body a certain amount of time and energy to warm the floor beneath you.

Without a sleeping pad and sleeping bag, your body will need to work all night to try to keep the floor beneath you warm. However, with a sleeping pad, pockets of air are warmed up and trapped in a specific way that minimizes the amount of effort your body would constantly be needing to use.

When it comes to how well a sleeping pad will insulate you from the cold ground, sleeping pads are measured with an R-value. This R-value measures its capacity to resist heat flow through it. So when you’re looking for a sleep pad the higher its R-value, the better it will insulate you from cold surfaces. For example a really thin sleep pad would have an R-value of 2 (and a really thick and well-insulated sleep pad would have an R-value of 5.5.

3. Choose a down sleeping bags and avoid synthetic

There are some key reasons that your winter motorcycle camping sleeping bag should be down and not synthetic:

  1. Size and compressibility: When you’re out on the road size is often the determining factor as to whether or not you bring an item on a trip. Down has the unique ability to compress into a quarter of its size, using a stuff-sack is the best way of doing so.
  2. Weight: When it comes to down vs synthetic, down is much lighter than synthetic and has a higher warmth to weight ratio.
  3. Longevity and durability: When looked after properly a high-quality down sleeping bad will last you decades of use. Whilst my experience has found synthetic sleeping bags don’t tend to last more than 5 or so years,

4. Layer up with the right winter gear

When you are out in the cold laying up properly makes a huge difference to how well you deal with the elements. When layering up it is important to understand the functions of each individual layer and what they are trying to do:

  1. Base layer: wicks sweat off your skin & keeps a thin layer of air against your skin
  2. Middle layer: Insulates your current body warmth and retains body heat to protect you from the cold
  3. Outer layer/Shell: Blocks wind, rain & snow to shields you from external elements.

5. Choose your campsite wisely

Choosing the right place to setup camp is critical to having a good night sleep. The general advice here is to:

  1. avoid the bottom of hills, top of hills or areas where cold-air troughs form.
  2. Pick a nice flate place to setup your tent.
  3. If you’re camping on snow walk around and use your shoes to compress the snow down. packed snow will work better underneath your sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground.
  4. Pitch your tent wth the door facing away from the wind.

How to Choose the Best Motorcycle Cover for You

It’s important to protect your motorcycle from the elements like dirt, rain and the sun’s harmful rays. But which cover is the best fit and protection for a medium size motorcycle? Here I’ll talk about 5 different motorcycle covers, tell you which one I chose for myself and why I like it.

If you Tow Your Motorcycle

If you tow your motorcycle often, you’ll want a cover that can deal with the unique issues that towing presents. Personally, while living full-time in an RV, I tow my motorcycle everywhere I go. Here are a few features to look for in a cover when you tow.

A snug fit. You need a cover that won’t flap around in the wind or fill up like a parachute while traveling down the highway. The tighter the fit, the more it will protect your motorcycle from flying gravel and road grime. While it’s hard to keep the dust out completely, a snug fit will help reduce it.

You’ll want a cover that you can secure under the motorcycle, so you should look for one with straps at the bottom, or at the very lease grommets so you can secure it with a velcro strap, zip tie, or bungee cord.

Protection from rain is also a top concern. We all know how dirty our cars can get when driving in the rain. The same thing happens to your motorcycle when it’s on a trailer. All that dirt and oil from the road can splash up onto your motorcycle. So, look for a cover that is waterproof, and fits completely down to the bottom of the tires. This will reduce the amount of rain and crud flying up, under the cover and onto your bike.

If you Park it on the Street

If you live in the city, in an apartment complex, or you simply don’t have access to a garage or carport, you’re stuck parking your motorcycle on the street. This comes with its own set of issues, security being a big one.

Covering your bike will help deter motorcycle thieves, but what about the cover itself? It’s not uncommon for people living on the streets to “find” things and claim them. This could include your cover. So, make sure you get a cover that has grommets at the bottom that are large enough to fit a lock through. Lock the cover to your motorcycle wheel so it doesn’t walk away.

The cover should also be waterproof and heavy enough to battle the elements. It should be washable especially if you’ll be parking under a tree. Think of all the tree sap, bird droppings and other gunk that will end up on your motorcycle cover.

Another safety tip is to avoid covers with a motorcycle brand name. You don’t want to advertise what you have under the cover with a big logo like Ducati or BMW all over it.

If you Keep Your Motorcycle in the Garage

Parking your motorcycle in your garage is the best protection you can give your bike. It not only keeps it safe from the elements, but also prevents mousture build-up, keeps your bike out of thieving eyes and lowers your insurance rates.

But if you’re parking your bike in a garage do you really need a motorcycle cover? Yep, you bet! Even in a garage dust and moisture build-up are real issues for the longevity of your bike, particularly in warm and humid environments. Also, if you live in a high-rise apartment and are parking your bike in a basement garage, a motorcycle cover can offer an additional layer of protection from motorcycle theft. Motorcycle theft in basement garages is more common than you might think.

Travel Motorcycle Covers

When it comes to protecting your bike on the road, whether that’s camping or staying at a hotel weight, size and portability come into play. That’s why it’s hard to pass up the Nelson-Rigg Deluxe All Season Cover. This thing is hands-down the best travel motorcycle cover currently on the market. With aluminized fabric on the bottom of the cover, you can put the cover on your bike straight away without worrying about your muffler searing the material.

If you Park it Outside Your House

For a cover to protect your bike from the elements outside your house, you will save yourself a lot of coin compared to your travel motorcycle covers. Something to watch out for is that motorcycle covers designed for at-home use are usually looser than your other types of covers so be sure to watch it in windy situations. Using zip ties or bungee cord usually works the best in these situations.

How Often Should Motorcycle Brake Fluid be Changed?

Lately I’ve noticed that the rear brakes on my motorcycle were getting a little soft or mushy. The rear brake lever would almost max out and pumping it a bit seemed to help. The pads still looked good so I started to wonder if it might be the brake fluid. I realize I had never changed the brake fluid since I purchased the motorcycle 6 years ago. So, I did a little research to find out how often my motorcycle’s brake fluid should be changed.

Most motorcycle manufacturers suggest that the brake fluid be changed or flushed every 2 to 3 years, and the level should be checked approximately every 100 to 200 miles.

Obviously, according to the manufacturer, I’m a bit late in the brake fluid department, but, is it really necessary to change it that often? Why do they suggest this?

Why you Should Flush the Brake Fluid

Brake fluid doesn’t last forever. Over time, with constant heating, then cooling, it begins to degrade and because glycol based brake fluids are hygroscopic, it absorbs water. If the water content within the brake fluid gets to be too high, it can be less effective or can cause damage to your calpers, resulting in a expensive repair.

While not as common, sometimes a leaky seal, leaking hose clamp or simply not putting the reservoir lid on properly, can cause air to get into the brake lines. This will cause mushy and ineffective braking and the best way to get rid of the air, is to flush the brake fluid. Be sure to repair or replace any parts that may have been causing the leak in the first place.

Lastly, the brake fluid could become dirty or contaminated if the reservoir covers are removed without proper care in keeping the work area clean of dust and debris.

How to Check Brake Fluid Levels

Every motorcycle will have two brake fluid reservoirs, one for the front brakes and one for the rear. The front reservoir is the easiest to find because it almost always sits on top of the handlebars next to the front brake lever.

Motorcycle Front Brake fluid reservoir
Front brake fluid reservoir with a window to check the level. Top is secured with two screws.

The rear brake reservoir location will depend on what motorcycle you own. It might be tucked behind body panels or behind the rear brake pegs, but they are often found fairly close to the rear brake lever and should be visible without taking off any parts.

The reservoirs can be round or square, some are opaque so you can see the fluid level at a glance, and some have an small, round window to check the level. All of them will come with two indicator lines on the outside of the reservoir. Your fluid level should always be between those lines. Never above the top line, and never below the bottom line.

motorcycle rear brake fluid reservoir
One example of a rear brake fluid reservoir. This one is behind the rear foot peg assembly.

When you check the fluid level, always make sure the motorcycle is standing upright so you get an accurate reading. Sometimes, to check the front reservoir, you have to turn your handlebars slightly to make sure the reservoir is flat, or level to the ground.

Each time your ride, or every week or two, do a visual inspection of both front and rear fluid levels. Top them off if necessary before you ride.

How to Top Off Brake Fluid

Topping off the brake fluid is quick and simple but there are a few precautions you should take. The last thing you want to do is get air or dirt into the fuel lines.

With your motorcycle level, place a towel on any painted surface to protect it from drips or spills. Remove the cap of the reservoir and set the cap on a clean, dust free surface. Some front brake reservoirs will a lid that is secured by two screws. Simply remove the screw to get the lid off.

motorcycle brake lever reservoir cover
This cover indicates to use only DOT 4 fluid. It also reminds you to clean the outside of the reservoir before opening.

Nex, remove the seal and inspect it for wear, cracks or tears. Place it on a clean surface as well. Now pour a small amount of brake fluid into the reservoir until it is between the two indicator lines, closer to the top line, but do not fill it above the top line.

It’s important that you DO NOT compress the brake lever when the reservoir cover is off and the bleeder valve is closed. The compression of the brake calipers could cause the brake fluid to overflow out of the reservoir. Messy. Brake fluid is very corrosive and flamable.

Once the reservoir is topped off to the proper level, carefully replace the seal and the lid, and you’re done. It’s as simple as that, and only take a couple of minutes.

What Type of Brake Fluid Should You Use?

DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, DOT 5.1? Which one should you use? The main difference between these brake fluids are their boiling points. Motorcycle brakes function at high temperatures and you want to reduce the risk of boiling the brake fluid as much as possible.

Usually riders who demand high performance from their motorcycles, will use a brake fluid with a higher boiling point. Those who race, or push their limits during a track day, will use their brakes heavily causing more heat. However, for a common or conservative street rider, the high boiling point is not as much of a factor.

Here’s a quick reference of boiling points for all four fluids.

Dry boiling pointWet boiling point
DOT 3205 °C (401 °F)140 °C (284 °F)
DOT 4230 °C (446 °F)155 °C (311 °F)
DOT 5260 °C (500 °F)180 °C (356 °F)
DOT 5.1260 °C (500 °F)180 °C (356 °F)

You can see that the boiling point for 5 and 5.1 are the same. What’s the difference? DOT 5 is a silicone based fluid while DOT 5.1, and all the others, are glycol based. People weren’t happy with the silicone base fluid because it was susceptible to creating more condensation in the lines. Glycol based fluids are hygroscopic (water absorbing) so, that’s why DOT 5.1 was developed.

In my opinion, based on the research I’ve done, use either DOT 4 or DOT 5.1. I personally keep it consistent and always use DOT 4 as I don’t need the high performance capabilities of the DOT 5.1.

A few precautions to take:

  • Don’t use DOT 3 brake fluid in your motorcycle. The boiling point is too low which could result in brake failure.
  • Never mix DOT 5 with ANY other brake fluid. It is silicone based while all other brake fluids are glycol based.
  • Dispose of used brake fluid properly based on the waste and disposal regulations in your town or county. Do not dump it down the drain or on the ground. That’s just nasty.

How to Flush your Motorcycle Brake Fluid

Flushing your brake fluid is not a difficult or complicated job and can usually be done by most home mechanics. Bleeding kits like this one on Amazon are handy, but you really don’t need any fancy equipment to get the job done.

Tools and parts needed:

  • Silicone tubing to fit over the bleed valve
  • Bottle of Dot 4 Brake Fluid
  • Container to hold old brake fluid
  • Ring spanner wrenches to fit your bleed valves, usually 8mm

Steps for Front Brake

  1. Use the spanner to loosen the bleed valve but keep it tight enough so the fluid doesn’t come out. Leave your wrench on the valve nut.
  2. Attach the tubing to end of the bleed valve and make sure you have a good seal.
  3. Place the other end of the tube and place it in a container for draining.
  4. Remove the cover from the brake fluid reservoir and inspect the seal for wear. If there are holes or cracks allowing air or contaminants to get in, you’ll need to replace it.
  5. With a bottle of fresh brake fluid ready to pour into the reservoir.
  6. Next, you’ll pump the old fluid through the system while replacing it with new fluid. Do it exactly like this: Open the bleed valve with the spanner; squeeze the brake lever and hold it; close the bleed valve; release the brake lever. Do it just like that several times while keeping an eye on the reservoir. DO NOT LET THE FLUID GET TOO LOW.
  7. Top off the reservoir with new fluid.
  8. Repeat step 6 and 7 until you start to see the new fluid coming out of the bleed valve.
  9. Final step is to close off the valve, remove the tubing, do a final top-off of the brake fluid and place the seal and cap back on to the reservoir making sure there is no excess air.

Steps for the Rear Brake

The steps for bleeding the rear brake fluid is exactly the same procedure as for the front brakes. The only difference, depending on your make or model of motorcycle, is the accessibility of the rear bleed valve, the reservoir and the ability to press the rear brake lever.

Sometimes it helps to get some help from a friend or grab one of your kids to come and push the lever for you. Also, the rear brake reservoir is often smaller than the front one, so make sure you keep a close eye on the level and top it off before air gets into the system.

Inspecting and Flushing your motorcycle brake fluid should be a part of your regular pre-ride inspection and a a part of your annual, or 2 year maintenance plan. It’s a good idea to keep a supply of brake fluid in your garage if you ever need to top it off.

You can also find related products on Amazon. Follow the affiliate links below.

How to Pack for a Motorcycle Camping Trip

I’ve been on motorcycle camping trips at least a couple of dozen times over the past few years and I’ve gotten pretty good and packing my motorcycle with everything I need to be comfortable, well fed and relaxed.

The way you pack your motorcycle for camping is going to depend greatly on what kind of motorcycle you ride. Adventure bikes are designed specifically to carry a lot of gear, but other bikes, like sport bikes or, say, a Sportster, it gets a little trickier.

No matter what type of motorcycle you have, there are some basic rules to follow when packing a motorcycle for a camping trip.

Pack for the destination location.

Where are you going? What’s the weather going to be like? Will you be tent camping in the wilderness, or staying in a campground or at a cabin? What kind of animals are in the area?

These are the things you want to consider when you’re selecting what gear to take, which clothes to pack and how to pack it. It will determine how much space you’ll need on your bike, where and how you will store your food, and possibly how to tie everything down securely. If you want to know more about what to pack, check out this blog post. And remember, when packing food you always want to make sure you’re eating healthy on a motorcycle trip.

Lay it out before you pack

Once you’ve decide what you’re going to bring, gather it all up and lay it out on the floor. Start separating items that should go together. For example, put your tent, sleeping bag, and other sleeping gear in one pile. Put all your cooking gear, utensils, stove and fuel in another pile. Same goes for all your food and all your clothes.

With everything laid out and separated, take another look and ask yourself if there is anything that you really don’t need to take. Eliminating unnecessary items now will help save space and weight.

Most used items easy to reach

You should separate items that you know you’ll want quick and easy access to. These are things like your cell phone, camera, wallet or your motorcycle registration.

It can also include items like lip balm, sun screen, a water bottle, charging cords for your phone or GoPro, headphones, sunglasses, snacks. The list is up to you.

If you ride with a tank bag, these are the items that should go in the tank bag. If you don’t have a tank bag, designate an outside pocket of your side bags or duffle bag to keep these items. Just make sure that you can reach them easily without removing straps or other bags. You don’t want to have to dig for these items.

Keep your gear dry

I doesn’t matter if the weather report says clear skies all the way, always assume it’s going to rain. Murphy’s law states that if you don’t pack for the rain, it will rain. So, make sure you have a way to keep everything dry.

If you don’t have waterproof luggage, you can use a number of different methods. Here are a few alternatives for keeping gear dry.

  • Heavy duty trash bags: stuff your duffle bag, tent, sleeping gear into a large trash bag. I’ve done this many times when I didn’t have waterproof luggage.
  • Gallon size Ziploc bags: these are great for your clothes or electronics
  • Dry bags: at any camping store you can find a set of dry bags like those found here on Amazon. They’ll add an extra layer of protection and they are great space savers too.

Keep your food separate

I like to pack my food in my hard shell top case because it’s all in one place the hard case protects it from animals. If you have soft bags, you can use the provided food storage at the campsite such as a bear box or food pantry. If you use a wooden pantry at the campsite, be sure to lock the door. Racoons are clever, so you need to make it as difficult as possible for animals to get into your food.

If you’re camping in an area where there are no food lockers at the campsite, store your food in a bear proof container, or bear proof bag. Sometimes bear containers can be big and bulky, so often a bag is an easier option.

But, even if you’re not camping in bear country, other animals like coyotes, foxes and racoons will be happy to run off with your food. Hanging your food out of reach is a great option.

Keep toiletries separate

Just like any overnight trip or vacation, it’s helpful to pack your toiletries in a separate bag to keep them organize and to prevent them from spilling onto all your other belongings.

Items like shampoo, perfume or cologne, sunscreen or makeup can leak, so it’s best to keep those in a water proof bag. Also, if you’re only camping for one or two night, consider leaving some of these items home. Bring only the absolute necessities. If you’re feeling really hard core, bring a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant, done.

You also want to keep your bag of toiletries out of your tent. Animals not only love the smell of food, anything with a scent can attract them and you don’t want them sniffing around your tent at night. Keep them and store them with your food.

Keep emergency items and tools accessible

Most motorcycles have space under the seat for a small set of tools for roadside repairs. This is great unless all your luggage is packed on top of the seat. Suddenly, you have to unpack everything just to get to a wrench.

The solution is to keep your on-board tool kit where you can find it without removing any straps. Consider carrying it in a saddle bag, near the top.

You could also consider carrying your tools in a fender bag. These are a great option if you have the right type of front fenders with enough room to secure the bag without impeding the front shocks.

Another option is to keep tools in a handlebar bag. These options will depend on the type of motorcycle you ride, but, the important part is to make sure your tools are accessible.

Pack snacks and water

When on a long motorcycle ride you want to make sure you stay hydrated and keep your energy up with snacks. Choose high energy snacks that are individually wrapped and that won’t melt. A chocolate bar will be a mess, go for M&M’s instead if you need a chocolate fix.

Other great snacks are trail mix, energy bars, mixed nuts, a piece of fruit. Avoid packing junk food like chips or soda. Drink water instead and wait until you get to your campsite before you crack open a beer.

PRO TIP: if you want a cold beer at your campsite, don’t pack it when you leave. Instead, buy it at a store closest to your campsite so it will be nice and cold.

Balance the load

To make your ride easier distribute your gear by weight evenly on each side. If you can remove your saddle bags to pick them up and compare the weight with each other, then that’s awesome. If not, do your best to distribute the weight evenly.

Heavy items on the bottom

To keep the center of gravity as low as possible on your motorcycle, pack the heaviest items on the bottom, light weight items on top. This can be a little tricky sometimes.

So, when you lay out all your gear and items on the floor, start deciding which items will go into which bag and on which side. Getting a good mental picture of where it will all go will make the packing process go faster.

Keep in mind that it’s not a perfect science. There are going to be things that are on the heavy side, but because of their size, they have to go on top of your seat. Often the culprit is the tent, or your on-board tool kit, but do your best to keep the weight as low as possible.

Securing it to the bike

It is so important to secure your gear on the bike so that there is absolutely no chance of something flying off down the highway. Whatever method you use is going to depend on your motorcycle and what type of bags you have.

There are really cool luggage sets that click together and strap down to the bike making it super quick and easy. But, if you’re like me, and you use a duffle bag, follow these tips to secure your stuff.

Use cinch straps instead of bungee cords. Elastic cords can stretch and give when you go over bumps and the hooks can actually come loose. This happened to me once with an air mattress. I haven’t use elastic chords since.

Keep your dirty clothes separate

At the end of the day you’re going to have some dirty clothes and nasty socks. Use a simple plastic grocery bag and designate it as a dirty clothes bag. Put your dirty clothes in the bag, toss it to the corner of your tent, and it won’t get mixed up with your clean underwear.

Another benefit of this is when you get home all you need to do is dump everything from that bag into the washing machine.

Charge electronics while you ride

This last tip doesn’t really have to do with packing your motorcycle, but it’s a smart idea to charge all of your electronics while you’re riding. If you bring extra battery chargers for your devices, charge them while you ride to use the power of the motorcycle’s battery so you don’t run out of power at your campsite.

I hope you use these tips the next time your pack for a motorcycle camping trip. Get out there and ride, be safe and have fun.

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13 Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain

Riding a motorcycle in the rain is not usually a rider’s first choice, but sometimes rain is unavoidable. I ridden plenty of times in the rain and have remained safe, warm and dry. So, here are 13 tips for riding a motorcycle in the rain.

Wear Waterproof Gear

Nothing can ruin your ride quicker than getting soaking wet. Combine that with the wind and you’re going to get cold. Suddenly your not just a little uncomfortable, but it becomes dangerous.

Invest in a decent set of rain gear. Waterproof riding gear comes in a wide range of prices and can sometimes be pretty expensive. But you don’t have to break the bank for a set.

Choose jacket and pants that you can quickly put on if it starts to rain. Get something that packs down small so you’re more likely to take it with you “just in case”. Choose a visible color. Visibility is impaired when it’s raining, so make sure you’re seen.

Don’t forget the gloves. A good pair of waterproof gloves will keep your fingers warm and dry. To top off your new outfit, add a pair of boot covers if your riding footwear isn’t waterproof.

Make Sure your Tires are Good

While some motorcycle tires are designed specifically for riding in the rain, most street tires are perfectly safe for riding on wet roads. However, don’t go riding in the rain if your tires are worn.

The tread on your tires should be well above the wear indicators and tires should be inflated according to the manufacturer. While you’re being extra cautious in the rain, it’s important to still trust your tires. If they are in good shape then they actually have a lot more grip than we often expect.

Take the Corners Slow

Don’t take the corners too fast. If you’re used to getting a good lean into the corners on a dry road, you’ll have to make some adjustments in the rain. While some lean is perfectly fine, you want to keep your speed down so that the rear tire doesn’t lose its grip on the road.

Don’t make any suddenly accelerate or decelerate while you’re turning and definitely avoid hitting the brakes in the turn. Sudden changes in speed can cause your tires to lose traction, and down you go.

Leave More Space Around You

While riding in the rain, leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. A sudden stop in the rain could cause you to skid out of control into the car in front of you.

Maintain your distance so you have more room to react and slowly apply the brakes if you need to stop unexpectedly.

Avoid Road Paint

Road paint is not your friend when it’s wet. All those painted lines and cross walks become slippery in the rain so, when you’re turning a corner, especially when making a left turn in an intersection, go slow with no sudden throttle bursts, and keep your bike as upright as possible.

It’s not just the paint that’s a problem. Metal grates, manhole covers, and railroad tracks can all be a hazard when they’re wet. Ride over these surfaces carefully, smoothly.

If you have to ride across a bridge with a metal grated surface, keep your arms and grip relaxed, your speed even and consistent, and keep your focus far ahead of you.

Make Yourself More Visible

Now is the time to wear bright colors. Choose a jacket or rain gear that is bright yellow. Yeah, you may look like a bumble bee in yellow and black, but your chances of being seen are greatly increased.

Before you take off, make sure all your lights are working properly. Check your tail light, brake light, high beams and turn signals.

Open your Helmet Vents

You can help prevent your visor from fogging up if you open the vents on your helmet, especially the vents at the front. If it gets too cold, wear a face covering to keep the cold air off your face.

Sometimes rain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cold outside, so opening your helmet vents will keep you more comfortable.

Pick a Dry Line

When riding in the rain try to ride along the tire line of the car in front of you. Let the cars move the water away for you. This will help reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning is when a thin layer of water gets between your tire and the road. You’re basically floating, which can quickly cause your tires to lose their grip on the road. That brings us to tip #9.

Avoid Puddles

Do your best to avoid puddles and stay away from standing water. Often after heavy rain, you’ll find puddles on the sides of the roadway, in intersections, or on corners where water hasn’t drained properly.

You might also find water on country roads where heavy rains can wash out low sections of the roads. Many small roads are prone to flooding, so watch out for street signs saying so.

If you do have to ride through standing water, go slow, relax, keep your line straight and your eyes focused ahead of you, not down at the water.

Use a Pinlock Face Shield

Pinlock ready helmet visors come with pins attached where you can snap in a second visor on top of the larger one. This will prevent your visor from fogging up by trapping air in between the two layers.

Pinlock inserts come in a variety of shades and are quick and easy to install so you can install a clear lens for the rain and swap it for a shaded insert when the sun comes out.

Keep your Starts and Stops Smooth

Somethings that can cause your tires to lose their grip on the road are jerky movements or quick starts and stops. So, when you’re accelerating from a stop, apply an even throttle until you get up to speed.

Likewise when you stop, let off the throttle smoothly and apply the brakes evenly, both front and rear, until you slow down to a stop.

When turning a corner, keep your accelaration minimal until you finish the turn. Stay steady on the throttle during the turn.

Don’t ride during the first 15 minutes of rain

The first 15 minutes of a rain storm are usually the most dangerous, especially if it hasn’t rained in a long time. All the built up road grime and oil will make a slimy coating until it has time to wash away. Usually 15 minutes of rain is enough to clear it up, then it’s safer to ride.

Keep your Belongings Dry

A good rule of thumb is to always pack your camping gear, clothes or whatever you’re taking, as if it’s going to rain. That means packing items in waterproof bags. Get a set of dry bags for clothes or small items that can fit inside your saddle bags.

For camping gear, invest in a good dry bag that will keep your tent and sleeping bag dry in a rainstorm. You can also use gallon size ziplock bags to keep your clothes dry.

If you have soft saddlebags use the rain cover if they came with them. Make sure they are secured properly so the wind doesn’t blow them off. Also, keep in mind that these rain covers are not guaranteed to keep your gear dry.

If you follow these tips, riding in the rain won’t be a miserable experience and you’ll stay safe and dry.

Related Topics

Recommended Products for Riding in Rain

The following list of products are items you might consider so that you can ride in the rain safely. As a disclaimer, some of these links are affiliate links.